Under Construction: Kushiya Benkay

Some additional info on Kushiya Benkay, the new Japanese restaurant under construction in Longfellow Square, has surfaced in documents filed with the Portland City Council.

As the name seemed suggest, Kushiya is indeed a sibling of Benkay on India Street. The draft menu (page 40) supplied with the liquor license application is available online. It includes a full traditional sushi menu as well as a list of Yakitori options.

Owner Hyon Kim is planning on an opening date in July.

Lobster Roll Quest

NYC food blog Never Ending Hunger was recently in Maine sampling lobster rolls up and down the coast including stops at The Lobster Shack and Bite into Maine.

So where does that leave us… where we knew we’d be after eating at Bite into Maine. Far and away the best lobster roll we had eaten. Bite into Maine not only met or surpassed all of the main criteria for a great lobster roll, they then tossed in a bit of creativity… creativity that worked. I was not going to bring up price either, but at $13.50 they were the best and cheapest (I guess the rents cheap) but they were so good I would pay double. Kudo’s to Sarah and Karl Sutton who moved from the mid-west to serve up what many locals are calling hands down the best lobster rolls in Maine. I am planning to go back soon and have the Chipotle and Wasabi, they say they’ll have them waiting for me.

For recommendations on where to pick up a lobster roll here in the Portland area, check out this article on Serious Eats penned by Malcolm Bedell, co-author of the popular Maine-based food blog From Away.

For a sandwich that seems so basic, individual preferences seems to be a major factor in what defines a “real” Maine lobster roll. Most agree on the basics: a New England split-top bun, griddled in butter until golden brown, then stuffed to overflowing with succulent, sweet, freshly-caught Maine lobster. After that, things get a little trickier.

Bunker Brewing & Review of The Works Bakery Cafe

The Press Herald has published a review of The Works Bakery Cafe.

Thanks, Works, for having consistently good food and drinks, for having staff who make me laugh, and more often than not, for playing decent music. Should you need to show you really, truly care about me, you’d bring back the banana walnut bagel. I’ll be waiting.

Also in today’s paper, the latest installment of What Ales You is an article about Bunker Brewing.

Jay Villani, owner of Local 188 and Sonny’s restaurants in Portland, and his baker, Chresten Sorenson, started Bunker Brewing with the idea of creating great beers with only the traditional ingredients: “malt, water, yeast, time, temperature and passion,” to quote Villani when I talked to him at the Bear.

Review of El Rayo Cantina

The Portland Phoenix has published a review of El Rayo Cantina.

The menu offers a mix of smallish snacks, good for a tapas-like approach to dining, intriguing salads, and more substantial entrées. The crab-coconut salad — with the crabmeat stacked over a layer of diced avocado — was fresh and light. It was seasoned with restraint so you could appreciate the natural sweetness of the ingredients. Delicate crisps made from masa corn added some welcome crunch and saltiness. A portobello taco managed to extract the earthiness from this mild mushroom. It was topped with an unusual and very pleasant version of rajas, made (it seemed) from yellow pepper. Fresh corn added some sweetness and crunch. The tamale is a bit unusual — the corn meal shell is relatively thin and light, while the plantain inside overwhelms some bites with sweet — somewhat obscuring the chorizo and goat cheese.

Another Food Truck Loss for Portland

The Forecaster has published a report about Love Cupcakes in Falmouth. According to the article, “Love Cupcakes came to Falmouth because of Portland’s strict restrictions on food trucks. So far the town has received the business with open arms – and mouths”

Owned and operated by Anna and Joey Turcotte, with the help of Jenny Spear, the business promises to take “everyone’s favorite, old-school dessert” and “serve it with a distinct twist.”

The Turcottes started just over a year ago by doing private parties, weddings and catered events. They now operate in a renovated, 1960s travel-trailer parked a short distance north of Martin’s Point, at Foreside Antiques.


Father’s Day & Vegan Kathy Freston

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald asked some local chefs for their thoughts on Father’s Day breakfast,

Chefs love it when their kids get busy in the kitchen to make them something special for Father’s Day. Tony Poulin, a chef instructor at Southern Maine Community College and father to a 9-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son, says his perfect Father’s Day meal would be “fresh Maine sea scallops, prepared any way.”

and an interview with vegan author Kathy Freston who will be speaking in Portland later this month.

Freston gradually removed one animal product after another from her dinner plate until her leaning process led her to a completely plant-based diet. When she arrives in Portland on June 25 to deliver two talks at Whole Foods Market (one of which is already sold out), the subject of leaning into dietary changes will be the main topic of discussion. That’s because her latest book is called “The Lean: A Revolutionary 30-Day Plan for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss.”

Book-o-rama: Texas Eats, Street Food, Apron Anxiety, People’s Pops

For this months collaborative food blogging project the group is once again collaborating with our good friends at Rabelais Books to do a Summer series of book reviews. Having read the groups reviews I think the book that most appeals to my reading interests in Texas Eats although that might just because it makes reference to The Federal Writers Project in the Introduction.

Edible Obsessions – Texas Eats by Robb Walsh

He starts in East Texas and the Gulf with delicious seafood recipes and traipses across the state and ends with a nod to the diverse contributions from Thai, Vietnamese and Indian cultures to the Texas food scene. He contributes even more space to the influence of Czech and German immigrants of Central Texas. Every chapter is dotted with anecdotes and first hand stories about the dishes, some by the people who created them. read the full article

From Away – Street Food by Susan Feniger

Susan Feniger is joie de vive personified. She’s a cook who seeks to introduce her audience to new worlds through food. She’s been doing this with her West Coast restaurants for decades, and with this title, cements her place in the cookbook author pantheon. It’s infectious, her love of food and life and humanity. These “irresistably crispy, creamy, crunch, spicy, sticky, sweet recipes” are bound to become part of my repertoire. I can’t wait to make my way through Street Food one page at a time. read the full article

The Blueberry Files – Apron Anxiety by Alyssa Shelasky

Apron Anxiety features the slightly troubled times in a young, upper-middle class, white woman’s life, the most challenging being her existential strife over love and work. OK, so not every memoir has to be about war, famine, or poverty, but after a while, the author’s complaints become a little grating. read the full article

Vrai-lean-uh – People’s Pops by Jordi, Carrell and Horowitz

There’s a fair argument to be made that popsicles don’t require a cookbook so much as a popsicle mold, a working freezer, and a low-to-moderate spirit of experimentation. It also has to be said that I am much less likely to give a cookbook the benefit of the doubt when they have the phrase “brooklyn’s coolest pop shop” on the cover. But I do love popsicles, and summer is approaching. read the full article